Searching – Film Review
Director: Aneesh Chaganty
Writers: Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian
Stars: John Cho, Debra Messing, Joseph Lee
Do we all spend too long looking at our ‘devices’? How long each day do we spend staring into screens of various sizes and shapes. It is debatable whether going to the cinema is a break from this or simply more of the same, but this film blurs the line further. I can see the pitch for this film. ‘What if we had a thriller, but instead of using traditional camera angles, it was shot entirely on computer, phone and TV screens’.
From the opening shots of this film, it follows this simple idea. You see a windows 98 computer booting up and someone flicking through a collection of photos of a family. It shows two parents and a small child. The child quickly grows up through the gift of montage into a teenager. You also get to see some video clips of the mother of the family falling ill with cancer and eventually dying. You get a lifetime squeezed into those first five minutes, but what comes after is where the mystery begins. The father, David Kim (John Cho), talks to his daughter Margot (Michelle La) on Facetime. She tells her Dad that she is staying late at her study group. In the morning, her Dad starts to worry when she fails to return his calls and texts. She has simply disappeared. What follows is the investigation into where she went, told through video and phone footage, along with may other such devices.
This is a high concept film but while it’s a neat idea, it can feel a little wedged in at times. There are scenes where the use of the various monitors feels a bit contrived, but you just have to run with it and suspend your disbelief a little further. The film has been compared to Hitchcock a number of times, and there is a feel of a ‘Rear Windows 10’ about it at times, but it never hits those heights. If you stripped back the concept and told it in a straight forward manner, it wouldn’t dazzle. It is quite original though, and you have to give them credit for that. It’s quite different from your average thriller and you can expect a few surprises along the way!